Blind-Sided By FEAR

For most of my adult life I have been a decisive, “take charge,” fearless individual:

I was divorced at 26, raised 2 young children while putting myself through graduate school, followed God’s leading to move to California without so much as a job or a home – confident that everything would work out.

I gave 2 weeks’ notice at my job, put my house up for sale, and took a week off to fly to Los Angeles to find a job and a house to rent. Sure enough, I saw a job posting in the LA Times, interviewed for the job (which had already narrowed the applicant field to the final 4), and was offered the position as the first Oncology Social Worker at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica. Two days later, I found a nice rent-controlled house which was close to the hospital.

Two years later, I had a compound fracture of my left ankle. My Orthopedic surgeon told me it was the worst he had ever seen, and I would probably never walk again. Throughout 2 surgeries and my recovery, I had dreams of skating with a roller skate attached to my foot-to-thigh cast and leaping into the air as a graceful dancer. Once the final cast was removed, I completed physical therapy and progressed to walking miles in the deep sand at the beach, returning to golf, then tennis, then every dance class at SMCC, then yoga, then near-competitive West Coast Swing dance with my husband.

Over the years and through many trials, there has been no end to what I could achieve with my confidence, inner strength, and connection to God. It has continued, even when I was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer in 2020.

When I launched my new website for cancer patients in 2024, ( I dedicated one page to FEAR and said that in many ways, it was as hard to deal with as cancer itself. I explained that fear puts the body into a fight/flight/immobilization state which floods the body with stress cortisol and adrenaline, dilates the eyes, narrows the blood vessels, causes shallow breathing, and concentrates all the body’s energy to the hands and feet so that we can fight or run away from the perceived threat.

This was a clinical explanation of FEAR. At that time, I didn’t have much firsthand knowledge of it. I knew it wasn’t healthy for cancer patients and encouraged people to seek ways to work through it.

It wasn’t until I lost 2 young people I love to cancer in February and March 2024, that I, myself, was blindsided by the overwhelming, debilitating effects of FEAR. I had no idea how powerful it could be, nor how it could impact my immune system and body’s reaction to the microscopic cancer cells that live inside me.

For the last 3 months, I have been nearly immobilized by the grip of FEAR. “If these two young people could die from cancer despite their treatments, that means that I, too, might die from it.” I couldn’t get that idea out of my mind, no matter how hard I tried. Emotionally, I was fragile. When I went to my surveillance testing, I was filled with anxiety and dread. FEAR was overpowering every area of my life. I lost my view of myself as a Whole Person who has been strong, confident, powerful and connected to God my entire life. My identity shrunk smaller and smaller until all that remained was a “cancer patient.”

This is when I learned firsthand that in the “fight/flight/immobilization” response to danger, The Core Part of the Body Which Houses the Vital Organs is deprived of energy, nourishment, relaxed normal functioning. The nervous system is thrown into a Para-Sympathetic response to FEAR and perceived danger, which over a long period induces INFLAMMATION, DEPRESSED IMMUNE FUNCTIONING, WEAKENED ABILITY TO KILL CANCER CELLS, and STRESS IN ALL THE BODY’S VITAL ORGANS.

It is not surprising to see that in my 3-month loop of unrelenting FEAR, my CA19-9 cancer marker tests rose to 80, then 120, to 260 – despite negative CT and MRI results, as well as digestive problems.

I thank God that I have finally been able to loosen the grip of FEAR on my body, mind, emotions and spirit and have returned to my normal level of functioning. Once again, I am that fearless young mother, that “take charge” woman, that Pancreatic Warrior Maiden.

I am taking a 6-week vacation from “all things cancer related,” and dedicating myself to returning my body, mind, emotions and spirit to its normal Sympathetic nervous system state of relaxed breathing, optimistic point of view, calm body, high immune functioning, release of stress, living in present time, healing, and celebrating the JOY in my life.

I send Love and Blessings to all people around the world who are struggling with FEAR, life challenges, grief, struggle for survival.

“Remember the Bigger Picture of who you are. Don’t Lose Hope! Believe in your ability to Succeed. Trust that your Body Can Heal. Find ways to Defeat FEAR! Claim your Spiritual Inheritance. Stay connected to people who love and support you.”

#JudithAnneDesjardinsPancreaticWarriorMaiden #TheHarmfulEffectsofChronicFear